Archive for the 'Student Perspective' Category

Energy is Heating up at CART – Clovis, CA

Thursday, June 21st, 2007


The Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART) was the first school in the PG&E Solar Schools Program – the school was selected for their aptitude in science and math, and their mission of collaborating with businesses and community agencies to educate students in a cross curricular, project-based environment that is academically rigorous, and facilitated through a business based instructional model. Their solar installation was celebrated on April 1st 2005 – no fooling!

Since April of 2005, the students and faculty of CART have done some amazing things. Recently, they announced the establishment of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company Environmental Research and Technology Lab.
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Students in the Pacific Gas and Electric Company Environmental Lab at CART are creating a photovoltaic lighting system for the lab’s storage shed. Since the students have never done a project like this before, they had to start from scratch and work their way up the ladder. Through using internet and book resources and speaking with a PG& E employee, Mr. Joe Estrada, they learned how to set up a photovoltaic system. Not only do they know the difference between AC and DC currents, but they have become familiar with wiring, light fixtures, and the extensive vocabulary.


Ally Simmons shows one on the PV Panels that will be used for the project

If you’re not familiar with solar energy it is basically energy that is gathered from the sun. The solar panels absorb the solar energy radiated from the sun and in turn create electricity. This energy can supply the same amount of electricity that fossil fuels produce, but instead it is a clean and renewable energy resource, which makes it more environmentally friendly.


Danielle Rojas is testing series and parallel circuits.

The goal for this project is not only to create a lighting system for CART’s storage shed but to demonstrate alternative energy sources and help reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. When asked why she is involved, Ally Simmons stated, “People in the world need to start caring about what happens to our earth. Our future and our kid’s future depend on it. I am proud to be apart of something that could make a difference even if it’s small.”

Mount Diablo – The next class

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Last month the 2006-2007 Health and Bioscience/Plant Ecology Club of Mount Diablo High School prepared for graduation, and celebrated one of their final accomplishments with their school and community…the PG&E Solar Schools Program team was there to have a Solar Celebration with them. Lead by teacher Sandy Johnson-Shaw, the students dedicated their new organic garden to Carolyn Hebert and Perry Carlston – “For the seeds you helped plant, and for those that have yet to grow in all of those you’ve touched.” These wonderful teachers (Mrs. Hebert, Mrs. Johnson-Shaw and Mr. Carlston) had been planting seeds for years…but in October of 2006 they began realizing another dream- to create an outdoor learning lab connecting healthy food to renewable energy within an organic garden, and that’s where the PG&E Solar Schools Program team stepped in to help with the energy elements of the garden.


In October, there was some dirt, sand, and a dream. By March, there was some new soil donated and delivered by American Soil Products on behalf of the PG&E Solar Schools Program.

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By April, the first crops were being harvested, and a 700 pound steel sunflower was growing form the earth with a team from SolarCity .

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One of my favorite quotes is, “You See Things; and Say “Why”? But I Dream things that Never Were; And I say “Why Not” … most people know this as a quote of John F. Kennedy, but in fact it’s from a Nobel Prize winning author. The MDHS Organic Garden is the culmination of a several dreams, and we can’t wait to see where the next class of dreamers leads us.

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The first person who writes to us with the name of the true author of the “dream things that never were” quote, and writes with another famous quote attributed to him/her will get a special EnergySeeds prize…


Growing Mount Diablo with some Local Hero(es)

Friday, March 23rd, 2007
Mount Diablo High School in Concord, CA is one of the latest PG&E Solar Schools Projects, and they had a bright idea…to place their 1kW installation in the heart of a working garden.
There was only one problem…the former site had a whole lot of sand, tired dirt, and needed a nutrient boost. The PG&E Solar Schools Program supplied the organic soil amendment, aptly titled “Local Hero”…and our teacher hero, Mrs. Sandy Johnson-Shaw, rallied her team with a great plan… The next step was to get new soil, and she organized her classroom for the delivery and subsequent dig. In a couple of months, we’ll see the plants and 1kW system grow out of this fertile ground…and we expect great ideas on sustainability, health, and energy to sprout with the latest additions to the outdoor learning environment Concord.misc-garden-028.jpg misc-garden-041.jpg misc-garden-084.jpg
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Here’s what one of the Mount Diablo High School students had to say:
“Thank you so much for your help getting us soil so we could continue with our goal of developing and outdoor learning classroom. On 3/9/07 we helped Mrs Johnson-Shaw move the dirt and begin making our rows to plant. At the end of the day we had our garden and the next day we worked to plant our propagated seeds. Our garden is on its way producing and we are enjoying classroom learning outside. It is our plan to use the garden as a tool to teach our younger peers about nutrition and sell our products to our on campus resturant and the hospital across the street, John Muir-Concord Campus. Again, thank you for you help in getting soil and reaching our goal.”
Justin Shields, Student.

Alvarado Elementary – Solar Panel Doubles as an Umbrella

Thursday, November 30th, 2006


There was a bit of drizzle (no comparison to the snow that much of the rest of the country is seeing), but the show went on…and industrious spirits found a way to make the most of what nature offered. A little intermittent rain was no match for the students, and faculty of Alvarado Elementary as they celebrated their PG&E Solar Schools project. The event and solar project was aptly articulated by San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Chan via a Chinese proverb- “Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” We likely won’t know for a few years how many students, and community members near Alvarado Elementary will take their next steps within energy…but we know there are many steps that can, and need to be taken…even on a rainy day one can be energized for what doors will soon be opened. Superintendent Chan’s reference reminded me of my favorite Chinese proverb (which is a theme for any energy seed project): “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”


Some students of Alvarado Elementary presented hand-made awards to the incoming San Francisco schools on behalf of the PG&E Solar Schools Program, which will be getting their very own 1kW solar installation in the coming months.

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After remarks were made by Principal Barresi, Superintendent Chan, Ophelia Basgal (PG&E VP vice president of Civic Partnerships and Community Initiatives), and Hydra Mendoza, Mayor’s Education Advisor, Member Elect, SF Board of Education, the students, faculty, and guests went in for some hands-on solar applications. Barry Scott, our teammate from NEED, was there to entertain and inspire students with solar beads and a variety of solar gadgets that are part of the PG&E Solar Schools Program offerings. PG&E Mascot Helmet was also there to mingle with the students.

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Here are the next San Francisco schools that will be getting their very own 1kW system as a part of the PG&E Solar Schools Program…we look forward to opening doors, and fishing with you soon-

  1. Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School
  2. A.P Giannini Middle School
  3. Presidio Middle School
  4. Frank McCoppin Elementary School
  5. Balboa High School
  6. Life Learning Academy
  7. Lakeshore Elementary School

We encourage our teachers to take advantage of PG&E’s teacher training soon, too! To look for upcoming workshops near you, go here –

Energy Oasis near a Capital of the West

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006


Driving up to Plainfield Elementary in Woodland, CA on a fall day was like driving into an energy oasis in the middle of agricultural heartland. The earth surrounding the school had been tilled awaiting the next set of crops, but in the middle of plots of land, an elementary school was sewing different seeds within the hearts, minds, and souls of their students: a new solar seed and the structure for a greenhouse had sprung up almost overnight with the support of the PG&E Solar Schools Program…but we know the school has been cultivating their garden for many years. We were there to celebrate their latest additions, and look forward to the future.

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Principal Barajas spoke with passion and conviction as she discussed her school’s vision, and her team of wonderful teachers, parents, and community members that sustain the efforts of Plainfield Elementary- a “Small School” with “Big Expectations”… Nancy McFadden, Vice President of Governmental Relations spoke on behalf of PG&E, and recognized the true solar champions of Woodland. Plainfield students created and recited essays in their own words, and we all had a sense of what this school and students would continue to create. After the event, we walked over to Plainfield’s inner garden where sun tea, solar cookies, and a bevy of plants and students greeted us. We expect to continue to have our own expectations exceeded, and we look forward to the next set of crops.


Solar S’mores in Oakland!?

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

I could smell the chocolate on the student’s hand as he came up to grab a solar pencil. His friend next to him had a gooey marshmellow smeared across his face. Obviously, there is nothing like a solar s’more on a nice sunny day in Oakland, especially if you received it from a solar cooking expert at Glenview Elementary.

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The whole school turned out last Friday, October 20th, to celebrate their induction to the PG&E Solar Schools Family. And let me tell you, the students and staff at Glenview really know how to throw a party! In addition to the solar s’mores, there were solar art projects, solar demonstartions, and plenty of community leaders to enjoy the festivities. Representatives from the Oakland Unified School District, A representative from the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Oakland’s Vice Mayor Jean Quan attended the event. All were treated to a solar tour given by 4th grade students.

PG&E Vice President of Civic Partnerships and Community Initiatives, Ophelia Basgal had the opportunity to play “Solar Claus” by presenting the school with an additional $2,500 Bright Ideas grant to purchase new computers so that the students could access the data being produced by their new solar panel, and compare it with others across California. The kids and community were having so much fun, they even stayed a bit after school to soak up all of the excitement…and dream a few new solar dreams.

Story submitted by Karalee Browne